In an attempt to take our minds off of the inevitable lockout, let’s turn our focus to the Rick Nash acquisition and if he will play with Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik.
The concept of a “super” line with these three sure is enticing. After all, it worked in Ottawa with Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza, and Dany Heatly. It has worked in the past with Sidney Crosby, Evgeny Malkin, and any winger that gets placed on that line (let’s be realistic here, you or I could play with those two and put up 35 goals). But what it gives a team in superior scoring talent, it takes away depth issues.
There are pros and cons to putting those three together, but it’s something that the coaching staff will at least look at when Gaborik is healthy. Whether that is before the season starts or after, well that’s up to the owners and the NHLPA.
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As the season (hopefully) draws nearer, there are a lot of excited Ranger fans, and for good reason. Following the Rick Nash trade, the Rangers finally have scoring depth to match their bottom-six depth. If Mike Sauer can find a way to get healthy for the start of the season –having made tremendous progress– then the Rangers defense could be one of the best in the league. Throw in Henrik Lundqvist, and you have a Rangers organization that is strong and balanced from top to bottom.
But therein lies the expectations. On Twitter the other day, there were many people tweeting to me that they expect Ryan Callahan to hit 70 points this year. They expect Chris Kreider to hit 60 points this year. If these are the expectations for two players that likely won’t be seeing much time with more than one of the big three (Nash, Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards), then it scares me to think what the expectations are for those three. Based on the Cally expectations, are people expecting Nash, Gaborik, and Richards to each break 90 points? Perhaps 100 points?
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Only five players have scored more goals than Rick Nash since 2003-2004. His 272 goals is indeed an impressive total. To date, Nash has scored 83 powerplay goals in his NHL career, a number that would surely have been larger had he had a better supporting cast during his time in Columbus.
While Nash only scored six powerplay goals in each of the last two seasons that number should grow when considering the presence of Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik and players such as Ryan Callahan and Mike Del Zotto on the power play.
Nash is a legitimate threat who is not afraid to shoot the puck, something that the Rangers powerplay hasn’t nearly done enough. With over 300 shots per season over the last two years Nash comes to a Rangers team with players to feed him the puck unlike in Columbus. The premise is that with more opportunity should come more production.
Perhaps the biggest Achilles heel of the Rangers last year was their ineffective powerplay. The presence of Nash adds elite skill, makes the team bigger, more trigger happy but also from a personnel point of view, deeper on the powerplay. The big winger will bump several players down onto a second unit, and will round out a first powerplay unit that should be explosive.
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One year into a massive nine-year contract is a pretty small sample size to determine if the signing of Brad Richards was a win or loss for the New York Rangers.
Though Richards’ production (25 goals, 41 assists) was a bit disappointing from a numbers standpoint, he still had a massive impact on the Blueshirts this season. It’s too early to make any concrete judgments on his tenure in New York, but we’ve already learned a good amount about Richards’ impact on the franchise.
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Well, that was awesome, huh? The Rangers are going to the Conference Finals for the first time since 1997 with a 2-1 win over the Washington Capitals in Game 7 of the Conference Semi-Finals. Brad Richards and Henrik Lundqvist were the story in this one, as well as tremendous team defense from the Blueshirts. Let’s break down the goals…
- Michael Del Zotto started this play by getting the puck deep. Carl Hagelin used his speed on the forecheck to gain possession and began to move the puck around the net. The forecheck caught 4 Capitals in the slot or below, which opened up the top of the offensive zone.
- Hagelin slipped a pass to a trailing Richards, which caught Niklas Backstrom too low in coverage, and Richie blasted a slapshot under Braden Holtby’s left arm. It was just the quick strike the Rangers needed. First goal, got the crowd into it, just 1:32 in.
- The Rangers’ second goal originated in their own zone. Michael Del Zotto made a great hit on Alex Ovechkin, causing a turnover at the Ranger blue line. Carl Hagelin quickly picked the puck up and led Marian Gaborik.
- Gabby turned on the jets realizing the Caps were in the midst of a change and carried the puck into the Caps’ zone. The defenders converged on Gabby’s shot from the high slot, blocking the wrister. Unfortunately for them, they lost track of the puck in the slot and lined up a perfect screen for Michael Del Zotto. DZ grabbed the puck in the slot and fired a nice little snap shot to the low stick side of Holtby. Read more »
John Tortorella wanted him, Glen Sather wanted him and the vast majority of the Rangers universe (media and fans) acknowledged he was exactly what this team needed last summer. Now, Brad Richards is proving the supporters right and the few (misinformed) doubters very much wrong.
Richards has been far from perfect in his first year on Broadway. Scott Gomez even outscored him when comparing debut regular seasons; but there is no doubting Richards’ impact on a young Rangers team in his first year. He’s every bit the leader that was hoped for.
Clutch: Richards has come up big all year long as his nine regular season game winners show. He’s leading the team in scoring in the post season and is making crucial plays all over the ice. In the triple overtime win it was his feed that set up the Gaborik winner. It was Richards who came up big in game five with the goal and in the same game check the video for number 19 back checking and breaking up plays in his own zone. Richards, in short, is a leader for the Rangers and right now he’s absolutely earning his large and long contract.
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The Rangers needed to win the game last night. Their entire club had been thoroughly outplayed by the Senators from Game Two through Game Five, and it appeared that the Rangers were getting beaten in every facet of the game (except penalty killing). That is where Brad Richards needed to step up. He was brought in not just for his offensive skill and ability to run the powerplay, but for his leadership and his ability to take over a game when needed. He did just that last night.
Richards may not have been awarded a star of the game last night, but he was instrumental to the Rangers success in forcing Game Seven. As Suit pointed out in his goal breakdown, Richards made a beautiful pass to Derek Stepan to tie the game, and then took a perfect shot to give the Rangers the lead nine minutes later. Those points were critical, and catapulted the Rangers towards their victory.
But it’s more than just the score sheet with Richards. The powerplay looked dominant. Richards was moving the puck around as the quarterback in a way the Rangers haven’t seen since Brian Leetch. They generated chances off crisp passing and cycling the puck. They took shots from the point, forcing the forwards to respect the shot, which opened up opportunities down low. The powerplay wasn’t perfect, but it sure was an improvement.
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The Rangers made it through the regular season by dominating teams at even strength. Their powerplay was nothing to write home about, and it was actually considered the biggest weakness in their game. But now, four games into the series with Ottawa, the Senators have managed to expose the Rangers at even strength. The last even strength goal: Brian Boyle’s goal in the third period of Game Three. The one before that? Boyle’s goal in the third period of Game Two.
For those keeping track, that’s two even strength goals in seven periods of hockey. That is not what made the Rangers the top seed in the Eastern Conference. They have a lead in even strength goals (7-6 thus far), but considering the weaknesses of the powerplay*, there needs to be a wider gap.
*-Statistically the Rangers powerplay isn’t awful this series, but it cost them Game Two. Timing is everything with powerplay goals.
The biggest offenders at even strength are the two guys that were signed to provide scoring for the Rangers: Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards. Both have just one even strength point (a goal a piece). Simply put: they need to be better at even strength.
The Senators aren’t exactly a defensive juggernaut, but they have managed to hold the Rangers to two goals or less in three of the first four games. Only Game One saw a successful Rangers attack at even strength. As Suit pointed out, the Senators aggressive hybrid trap has the Rangers running around in their own zone, and seemingly unable to get anything going on offense.
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So the Rangers lost another heartbreaker last night in overtime. It’s their second loss to the Senators in the series, both coming in overtime. The fan base is on edge, and for good reason. The Senators are a good team, and a team that the Rangers do not match up well against. It’s going to be a stressful series, that’s for sure. But enough of that, let’s get to the musings for the day.
I’m in the process of reading a book called “Losing the Edge: The Rise and Fall of the Stanley Cup Champion New York Rangers”, and there was a great quote in the book, from none other than Mark Messier:
“Leadership isn’t about the win, it’s about how you rebound after the loss.”
This statement is more true now, in this series, than ever before. The Rangers have more leaders on this team with Cup experience than the Senators. It’s time for the leaders to take charge. In fact, one of the leaders –Mike Rupp– almost won the game for the Rangers in overtime with his forecheck in the Senators zone. People still rip on Rupp for no reason whatsoever. Maybe it’s the contract, but I get the sense that it’s a feeling of “he doesn’t do anything for this club.” That is so false, it pains me every time I see it. Hockey is more than goals and assists. It’s about dirty work, especially playoff hockey.
Speaking of playoff hockey, is last night’s game what we are reduced to? There were a toal of 12 penalties last night totaling 24 PIMs. Some were legitimate calls, but I can point to two penalties, one per team, that were questionable at best. Ryan McDonagh’s “trip” on Zenon Kenopka in the first period and Zach Smith’s “interference” on Ruslan Fedotenko in the second period were very iffy calls. But such is the life after a dirty first two games. The refs aren’t going to allow this stuff to fly. This is now a special teams series, and that makes most people nervous.
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The Rangers lost a frustrating game to the Ottawa Senators tonight, 3-2 in overtime. It was frustrating because the Rangers jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead (on two power play goals no less), and then allowed Ottawa to control the play and eventually claw their way back before Kyle Turris ended the game 2:42 into the extra frame.
- The Rangers jumped out to an early lead, just :49 seconds into the game. Brad Richards won an offensive zone face-off and was able to gain position in the slot. Marian Gaborik worked the puck off the wall and hit Richards for a nice chance. Craig Anderson seemed to get handcuffed by the shot and sent a juicy rebound to the weak side. Anton Stralman jumped up and snapped a shot past Anderson from the slot. This goal served as a reminder of being able to establish possession in the offensive zone off the draw when your team has the man-advantage.
- The Rangers struck again on the power play just 6 minutes later. Dan Girardi was able to keep an Ottawa clearing attempt in the zone and made a nifty little behind the back pass to Brad Richards which opened up the ice on the far side. Richards put a hard, low shot on Anderson, which created a rebound and ensuing scramble in front. Marian Gaborik had a couple of whacks at the rebound, which eventually found its way onto Ryan Callahan’s stick for an easy tap in. Good net front presence by the Captain, and solid work by Gaborik staying diligent on the scramble in front. Read more »